WISCONSIN — State Superintendent Jill Underly delivered the 2022 State of Education address at the Capitol on Thursday.
The State of Education address included updates on Wisconsin’s K-12 education system, as well as outlined “opportunities and challenges currently facing students, educators, and families.”
In her address, Underly called for increased investments to be made in public education.
“We need robust, ongoing, reliable funding for our public schools and libraries across Wisconsin. Without increased funding, schools and libraries cannot meet the needs of children, or of all of us,” she said.
She said Wisconsin schools are “strong” and “resilient” because of previous investments made in public education. She said new investments should be made so future generations enter a sound school system.
“Today, we need to make meaningful investment again so that, decades down the line, some future state superintendent can say the same – that the state of public education in Wisconsin is strong then because we had the foresight and willpower to make impactful investments today ,” Underly explained.
During her address, Underly also talked about the “achievement gap,” or disparities among groups of student success in the classroom.
Underly said she does not think it should even be called the “achievement” gap in the first place, noting “a gap in outcomes is caused by a gap in inputs.”
“Understanding the achievement gap instead as a representation gap, or an engagement gap, means that there are clear action steps we can take to address it,” she said.
Underly also said Wisconsin schools need to work to “create safe learning environments.” Underly said classrooms, and therefore students, need to be safe. She said “emotional safety” comes from building an “affirming and welcoming community.”
Underly said that should be the “bare minimum.”
“When we have welcoming and affirming schools and classrooms, it creates belonging. Belonging creates community. Community creates young people who are engaged in the civic life of our state. And civic engagement creates a strong, healthy democracy,” Underly said.
Underly said schools can be the foundation of democracy.
She said through education, students learn how to examine the past, think critically about the present and make informed decisions about the future. She called on adult Wisconsinites to do the same.